From March 8 to 11, 2017, meetings of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) and CARICOM took place in Havana, Cuba at the ministerial level to strengthen unity and regional exchange. Those meetings were the First Cooperation Conference and the XXII Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Association of Caribbean States and the V CARICOM-Cuba Ministerial Meeting.
Cuba gave CARICOM the extension of the Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation (Second Protocol), which facilitates access to the Cuban market for hundreds of CARICOM products as well as trade between the two parties.
Projects were approved by the Association of Caribbean States to protect the sandy coasts of the Caribbean, coral reefs and for control of the sargasso and invasive species. Both parties worked on the identification of financial and technological resources to implement cooperation.
It was agreed to hold the VI CARICOM-Cuba Summit in Antigua and Barbuda in December 2017. This Summit has been held since 2002 and every three years following the establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba on December 8, 1972 by four independent Caribbean countries at that time, namely Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
Cuba’s cooperation with the Caribbean has a high social impact. Currently, Cuba has 1,538 cooperation personnel in CARICOM member countries, most of them in the health sector, but also in education, construction, sport and agriculture. A total of 5,432 Caribbean students have graduated in Cuba and 822 Caribbean students are now studying in Cuba.More than 500 Cuban sport coaches have cooperated with the Caribbean and 325 Caribbean people have graduated in Cuba in the field of sport.
Cuba offers priority to Haiti where it has 689 health workers and after Hurricane Matthew, Cuba donated 900 tonnes of food and materials to that country. Projects are underway with Cuba for the opening of the Regional School of Arts in Jamaica (including dance, music, theater and fine arts) and the Regional Center for Children and Youth with Special Educational Needs in Guyana.
Cuba has also organized two regional workshops on confronting natural disasters and contributed to the construction of the Argyle airport in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, completed on February 14, 2017. In 2016, Cuba had commercial operations with all Caribbean countries and doubled its trade with the Caribbean countries.
Cuba is willing to develop the multi-destination in the tourism sector with the Caribbean and the meetings in Havana considered the development of cultural exchange in the region as an instrument for sustainable development, unity, peace, education and understanding.
In Saint Lucia, Cuba maintains medical personnel, including the provision of personnel and supplies for the Ophthalmology Clinic, as well as engineers and sports coaches, in addition to continuing the annual scholarship programme, through which more than 500 Saint Lucians have graduated in Cuba and more than 50 are studying in Cuba at the moment. Cuba also maintains exchanges in the spheres of education and culture and works to identify new technical exchange and trade opportunities.
The high-level Caribbean meetings in Havana also highlighted the need for Latin American and the Caribbean for unity to face external challenges, international uncertainty and to guarantee the independence, development and well-being of our region. The Latin American and Caribbean region was ratified as a zone of peace. Cuba thanked the Caribbean for its solidarity and courageous support and ratified that it will continue to share its modest achievements with the Caribbean and that Cuba will never fail the Caribbean.